Know the facts before you sign on the dotted line! Here are some important questions to ask while researching your ideal wedding venue.
1. What are your alcohol-serving policies? Is there a corkage fee for bringing in our own wine?
Some venues require a licensed company to serve alcohol rather than allowing self-service by guests. Some venues only allow wine and beer to be served. Some venues, like hotels, require all alcohol to be provided by and served by their staff.
2. What is the venue’s curfew time?
Some venues are located in areas with strict noise restrictions. Know the facts about how long the party can go before signing on the dotted line.
3. Is live music allowed? When must music be shut down?
Sometimes, only unamplified music is allowed, other times, you can bring in a live band without any problem. Certain areas have rather strict noise ordinances, so research the town/city policies before locking in a venue. If you want to party until 1am, be sure your venue’s area of town will allow that.
4. What are your power capabilities?
Live music performances, kitchen buildouts, photo booths, DJs and lighting schemes all require power. Little known fact: coffee makers pull a ton of power! Check with the venue about how much power and how many dedicated circuits they have on-site. You may need to rent a generator to accommodate your needs. Your band/DJ will let you know how much power is required for their equipment and a rental company providing lighting will confirm their power needs and provide a generator if necessary. Schedule a walkthrough with your vendors to point out the outlets and ensure your power needs are taken care of before the big day. Of course, if you have a good planner, they’ll take care of all of these logistics for you! That’s just another of the many reasons to bring on an experienced planner. 😉
5. What is the weather contingency plan?
For outdoor venues, plan ahead so you aren’t left stuck out in the rain…literally. Some venues can accommodate movement into indoor spaces while others require you to keep a tent on reserve with a rental company. Discuss the options and be prepared.
6. What inventory is included in the rental of the property?
Some venues provide ceremony chairs, reception tables and chairs, flatware, linens, stemware, staging, lighting, even some candles. At other venues, you are simply renting the ground and need to bring everything else on-site, including a fully operational kitchen. Get a clear picture of what the venue has and what you will need to rent separately. All-inclusive venues many times look a lot more expensive, but when factoring in all they provide that you don’t need to rent, they are sometimes more cost-effective. The downside is that you are limited to their selection of inventory rather than getting to choose the aesthetic that suits your party best. Most of the time at all-inclusive venues, our clients are using some of the house inventory and upgrading certain elements to make the party feel more customized to their taste and aesthetic. While more logistically challenging, blank slate venues are fun because we get to completely design a space from the ground up. It makes for the most customized experience!
7. What is the event rental period and does it include the timing for setup and strike?
Most events are around 6-8 hours. In addition to that, your vendor team needs a handful of hours to set up and a couple of hours to strike the event. Get a clear picture of what time guests need to be off property and what time vendors need to be off property.
8. Do you provide in-house catering or do we bring in our own?
Food is an important part of your guests experience, and you’ll want to know all of the options available to you. Perhaps you have your favorite restaurant in mind but the venue already provides on-site catering. There may be a hefty buyout fee to bring in your own caterer if the venue already provides one. Some venues have a list of exclusive catering teams that are pre-approved to work at the space. Others simply have a preferred vendor list, but still allow you to bring in whomever you wish. You will need to consider all of these factors before booking your venue and any other vendors.
9. Do you have an exclusive or preferred vendor list? Can we bring in vendors not on your list?
It’s not just the venue that creates the ambiance for your day but also the team you bring in. Learn the venue’s policies on working with vendors. We prefer venues that allow flexibility of bringing in whomever you want, but perhaps a venue has a good reason for not wanting to work with certain vendors who may have been disrespectful to their property in the past. It’s important to know the venue’s policies BEFORE booking any of your vendors. Many times, a venue will also ask for Certificates of Insurance from each vendor you book.